Eye on the prize

BC Rail indemnity: two of the deal makers

Yesterday, late in the court proceedings set in play by Auditor General John Doyle’s attempt to get at secret BC Rail legal documents, government lawyer Richard Butler filed an affidavit admitting he had filed a false affidavit declaring the government did not possess key documents related to the defence’s legal billings.

Butler was the dogsbody on this file, living and breathing it for years.  He now claims he forgot that he had the billings in his hand.  Either he’s not telling the truth or the government should come up with a new policy for crown lawyers with advanced alzheimer’s.

Who cares, right?  The government has lied its way through this whole eight year long scandal.  What’s another one?

Well I care.  You care.  We all care.  Anyone who wants to get to the bottom of one of the crookedest deals in BC history cares.  And another lie is another brick in the cover-up wall.  So Butler’s “false” affidavit matters.

But let’s be clear:  the documents under the spotlight – the defence’s itemized billings, paid for by the public against government policy – aren’t the big prize.

The big prize is the indemnity agreement itself.

And why?  Because the indemnity agreement is how the government achieved the cover-up.  As government official after government official took the stand in the fall of 2010 it became clear that the defence wasn’t going to let them off the hook.  And to stop the political damage someone was going to have to stop the trial.

Two obstacles stood in the way:  the prosecution’s sentencing demands and the government’s indemnification policy.

The sentencing demands were easy.  They got changed: jail time turned into house arrest.  But restoring an indemnification that dissolved the moment a guilty plea was entered proved much more tricky.  It required an offer that was made on paper that had to be agreed to and signed by government representatives and the accused.

It meant a paper trail.  Which is what John Doyle and John van Dongen are going after.

Like AGT I have an idea what’s in that offer.  I’d say it goes something like this: if the defendants do x, y & z then they get relieved of their debts to the crown.  In other words in return for ending the trial they get $6 million.

Also like AGT and as I have written previously, I believe what was offered was an illegal inducement to plead guilty.  There is no other logical way the deal could have happened.

I also believe once it’s exposed to the open air, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down.  It won’t be pretty.


P.S.  I grew up on seventies movies… like All the President’s Men.  It’s a great story broken by two great journalists, just starting out and with the fire in the belly to keep at it despite a lot of ridicule.  In the end they felled arguably the most powerful man on earth and delivered a lot of his colleagues to jail.

I kind of see the BC Rail scandal as BC’s version of Watergate.  So, where are the journalists?  Yesterday’s lying affidavit was covered by one paper and one radio station.

Oh wait, Kate Middleton is preggers.  Cue the wire feeds.


P.S.S.  You can read Butler’s affidavit over at AGT‘s site.  Tieleman, the Gazetteer and Norm Farrell all have excellent pieces to go along with Tsukamis’.


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9 Responses to Eye on the prize

  1. RossK says:

    And the weird thing Ian….

    If I read him correctly former Attorney General Geoff Plant agrees with you.

    Thing is, he doesn’t believe (understand?) that a prior ‘understanding’ is also a prior ‘inducement’.


  2. e.a.f. says:

    Many of us want to know what exactly went on with not only our tax dollars but the integrity or lack of in government. I want B.C. Rail back. I don’t believe it was a “straight deal” & therefore sold illegally. Then we have the “cover up”. We still have a “cover up”. The government is spending money we don’t have to keep from making information public. Information which should be open to the public. Why the auditor general & an MLA have to go to court to have access to government papers is beyond me. Well it isn’t. I can only conclude the government has something to hide. It has something to hide that is so foul they want to spend a lot of time, money, energy to make sure no one ever sees the stuff. Now why would that happen? Maybe someone could go to jail???

    I do not count on the MSM to cover any of this with any real investigative zeal. There are a couple of reporters who do a good job, but the rest of them, not so much. Even with some good reporters, their employers won’t let them publish the truth. They have interests also. The blogs are the best current source of information regarding B.C. politics. it would be fun to purchase a couple of pages in the leading provincial newspapers & just write the information which has been on the blogs. Then voters could see what has been going on. Short of that, I don’t see the majority of voters finding out very much about B.C. Rail.

  3. cherylb says:

    If the deal was fraudulent can we get BC Rail back?

  4. Gary L. says:

    “Well I care. You care. We all care.”

    Indeed Ian………………………………… indeed.


  5. RossK says:

    Sorry all, in my haste earlier in the day, I didn’t put up the best link that illustrates the too and fro I had with former Attorney General Mr. Plant and the apparent differences between prior understandings and prior inducements.

    A better link with the actual back and forth between us (and others, including Paul Willcocks) from March of 2012 is here.

    Ian, please feel free to remove my original comment to decrease the thread clutter if you like)


  6. Robbie says:

    Good post, Ian. Glad to see you writing.

  7. Arleigh Chase says:

    John van Dongen’s video blog for the last day of arguments includes a comment about Chief Justice Bauman issuing a sealing order for two pages of documents. These documents appear to have risen to the Court’s notice as a result of Butler’s mea culpa affidavit. I wonder what was in them. And why so much effort was seemingly expended in trying to keep them from the Court and from the amicus curiae?

  8. Julie says:

    It’s always the same old, same old. Politicians are never punished for their crimes, in this country. How could Harper have possibly given Campbell, the High Commissioner to England post? Politicians are rewarded for their crimes, not punished. Harper protects his degenerates. What happened with Boessenkool? He too works for Harper. Bruce Carson, was another degenerate Harper hired. He was arrested for influence peddling.

    Christy Clark was Campbell’s Deputy Premier at the time of the BCR scam, was she not? Most of Campbell’s good old boys were around too. No-one lifted a finger to stop, Campbell’s theft and corrupt sale of the BCR. This was Campbell’s first election lie. All of them are still, covering up for Campbell. That’s what happened to Christy and her Liberals. You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

  9. Pingback: Who’s been naughtiest in B.C. Politics? | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

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